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Ex-VANOC chief John Furlong taking legal action over abuse claims

John Furlong, former CEO of VANOC, addresses reporters to deny allegations in a newspaper article published on Sept. 27, 2012.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

John Furlong has filed a lawsuit over a September article that included allegations that he physically and verbally abused students while he was a teacher at a school in Burns Lake, B.C.

Mr. Furlong, formerly the chief executive officer of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Winter Olympics, has denied the allegations and said previously that he would take legal action over the article, which was published Sept. 27 in the Georgia Straight, a Vancouver weekly.

In an e-mail Tuesday sent on behalf of Mr. Furlong's legal counsel, Catherine Locke of communications firm TwentyTen Group said Mr. Furlong on Tuesday filed a notice of civil claim against writer Laura Robinson as well as Straight publisher Daniel McLeod, editor Charlie Smith and Vancouver Free Press Publishing Corp., which publishes the Georgia Straight.

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"Now that this matter is before the courts, Mr . Furlong and his counsel will not be available for public comment," Ms. Locke said in the e-mail.

The lawsuit had yet to be filed in the public court registry. Neither Mr. Smith nor Ms. Robinson were immediately available for comment.

In the story, Ms. Robinson quoted several former students who alleged Mr. Furlong had abused them while he was a teacher at the Immaculata Elementary School in Burns Lake in the late 1960s. Ms. Robinson also raised questions about how Mr. Furlong has presented his personal history in Canada, noting that public accounts refer to him arriving in Prince George in 1974 but that he had actually arrived years earlier.

At a news conference in Vancouver held the same day the story was published, Mr. Furlong said he categorically denied any wrongdoing and encouraged police to look into the allegations. The RCMP have confirmed they are investigating allegations but have not provided further information.

Mr. Furlong, whose memoir Patriot Hearts was written with The Globe and Mail's Gary Mason, is currently executive chair of the Vancouver Whitecaps.

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About the Author
National correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Wendy Stueck has covered technology and business and now reports on British Columbia issues including natural resources, aboriginal issues and urban affairs. More

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